Monday, August 20, 2012

A Tart Tradition

Oh, the walk in the woods the day before Christmas. The birthday cake that's become your yearly ritual...and the recurring hope when you blow the candles out that you willa ctually, someday, become a spy...Wait, what? Sorry, that was too much information.

My point being that we all have our special traditions that we link to specific seasons or times of the year. It goes far beyond the ubiquitous Thanksgiving turkey: for some, it's all about apple-picking on that special family weekend, or biting into your first lobster roll of the Summer.

I've created my own traditions of sorts, that accompanies Summer weekends in the Vosges. There's the walk in the woods, that migrated from Winter to Summer this year...

... but there's also the baking of a nice tart. Remember the tarte aux fraises?

This time around, however, there was more of a story behind it. In my last post, I mentioned a special trip to Italy, where Amalfi coast lemons and a ring were involved. The ring has, thankfully and somewhat unsurprisingly, stayed on my finger. The lemons, on the other hand, went from a little shop in the coastal town of Praiano to our fridge in Paris, to my aunt's fridge in the Vosges mountains.

These aren't your run of the mill lemons. Ooooh no. These are more like a cross between what the French call a citron (a lemon) and the english citron, or cédrat in French. They're bumpy and huge, but just one look is enough to make you want to dig your nails into them to let the fragrant oil work its magic. (Don't get me wrong, I don't dig my nails into things that often, in case you might have gotten that idea.)

Wondering whether it's really worth it to lug a bag of lemons back from a trip to the Amalfi coast? Wonder no longer! You can zest them and store the zest in sugar to add taste to anything from a muffin to yogurt. The juice is delicious on its own, too.

Or... start a tart tradition! Not the kind that's going to leave you bitter ("I never wanted that tradition in the first place!" = not the right kind of tart), but the opportunity to indulge in creamy lemon curd and a tasty crust.

If you know Bilingual Butter, you'll recognize the recipes that I used - hey, it's not called a tradition for nothing!

Lemon Tart
serves 6 to 8

for the tart crust (makes extra dough, enough for one or two tartelettes):

250g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
85g (1/3 cup) confectioner's sugar
1 egg
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped
125g (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks
25g (1 3/4 TB) almond powder
4g (1 TS) salt

Beat butter with a mixer or by hand until fluffly. Add confectioner's sugar, almond powder, salt, vanilla "caviar", egg, and flour, one at a time and mixing well after each addition.

Dough should be pretty sticky but you should still be able to handle it. Roll it into a ball, flatten a little with the palm of your hand, and refrigerate for at least a few hours: overnight is fine. You can also freeze the dough.

When ready to use, preheat oven to 180°C/ 350°F.

Flatten the dough using a rolling pin until it is 3mm thick. Place in a buttered 22cm tart pan (that would be 8.66 inches precisely! 8 or 9-inch is fine). Cover the pan with parchment paper and pie weights. Bake crust for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove parchment paper and weights, and bake for another 10 minutes.

Set tart crust on a wire rack to cool.

for the lemon curd:
makes 2 1/2 cups, or enough for a French-sized tart

4 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
3/4 c. sugar
2/3 c. fresh lemon juice
8g lemon zest (approx. 1 TB)
145g (10 TB) cold butter, cut into pieces

Rub zest and sugar together.
Mix lemon juice, sugar/zest, and eggs together in a heatproof bowl. Place it over a pan of simmering water.
Cook, whisking constantly, until a thermometer reads 75°C.
Remove from heat; when temperature comes back down to 60°C, incorporate butter and mix for 5 minutes.
Cover surface with plastic wrap and set aside to let cool.

Refrigerate up to 2 weeks. When ready to use, pour into baked tart shell, bake for a little under 10 minutes for the curd to firm up, and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

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claudia said...

what a pretty tart, cannot wait to try it!

grace said...

so wait, are you engaged? married? inquiring minds want to know!
LOVE this tart, lucie. very vibrant.